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The Small Organic Herban Garden

by M.R. Cameo about a year ago in Nature
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A Peaceful Oasis Within an Urban Sphere

Living in the middle of a city can sometimes makes it difficult to spend sufficient time among nature. Having recently moved to a new place, I was overjoyed to a have an outside area that I could turn into a plant sanctuary. Though small, I have maximized space by choosing the majority of my plants specifically for their unique abilities, whether as an amazing addition in culinary applications, for their remarkable health benefits, or to keep pests away. Gardening in general is excellent for one’s physical and emotional health, while creating a unique space filled with the plants and décor of ones choosing provides a serene space to enjoy.

I have always been interested in gardening but living in compact apartments with no outdoor area to utilize and very little sun has always made things difficult. Attempts in the past to grow herbs, rose bushes, and even Venus fly traps always ended in a disappointing end of empty pots whose contents had withered away. Now living in a sunny area with a convenient lanai I knew that it was the time to turn my tiny space into a serene and versatile wonderland.

Chenille Firetail

The first thing I did was look up my growing region to get a good grasp on what would grow best here. Luckily being in USDA region 9, the world is really my oyster when it comes to what I can successfully grow. My first purchase was a beautiful multicolored rose bush which immediately livened up the area and brought a sense of tranquility. That was soon followed by a rare ray black petunia that immediately caught my eye, and then an amazingly stunning plant with brightly colored bushy blooms known as a chenille firetail. Knowing I had limited space I wanted my choices from then out to have the most impact and usefulness possible for my garden as well as in other areas of my life.

Organic Pest Control

Catnip, Lemongrass, Peppermint

In keeping my garden fully organic I knew I would need some natural pest control. Doing research into catnip I found it to be an ideal plant for an organic garden, being that it repels several bugs and pests while having an appealing appearance as well as several health benefits. Lemongrass and peppermint are also great for keeping away bugs as well as having various other applications. Having these plants, I have noticed very little bugs in my garden, but I purchased some organic neem oil just to cover my bases as it protects plants from pests as well as several diseases and ailments including white mildew. While my garden is still rather new, with these methods all of my plants have so far been in excellent health and are significantly growing in size.

Culinary Applications

Basil, French Lavender, Cilantro, Chives, Thyme (Back)

Since cooking is another joy of mine, it was imperative that I would have plenty of things from my garden that I could incorporate into the kitchen. Investing in my favorite herbs such as cilantro, chives, basil and thyme has added so much flavor and vigor to my dishes I couldn’t imagine going back to the bland lifeless store varieties. Just a few leaves of chopped cilantro on top of burritos, enchiladas, or fried rice adds a exuberant amount of flavor. A few sprigs of chive on salads or sandwiches applies a crisp strong onion flavor that not even a full clamshell from the grocery store could provide. Fresh lavender has such a potent and invigorating scent and makes for a superb addition to fudges and pastries. Having fresh basil that I can pluck moments before use has turned my pesto sauces and stir-fries into flavor popping sensations. While fresh thyme is absolutely phenomenal in its flavor and can used in a very wide application of dishes. Right now, I am growing the English variety of thyme and it has a very deep delicate flavor that is a delight on tofu, hummus, and potatoes.

Catnip, lemongrass, and peppermint also have multiple uses in the culinary world. Catnip can be incorporated into herbal tea or put into salads or stews. Lemongrass is excellent in fried rice, sauces, and curries. While peppermint is excellent in cold drinks such as lemonades and smoothies, especially on particularly hot days.

Medicinal Benefits

Multicolored Rose Bush

Having fresh herbs available is like having a little personal apothecary. Every plant is incredibly unique and can carry a wide slew of astounding medicinal benefits. Roses have anti-depressant properties and when made into a tea remove toxins from the blood and help in cleaning the gallbladder. Catnip relieves anxiety, soothes menstrual pains, and even speeds wound healing. Lemongrass can help with insomnia, respiratory disorders, and managing diabetes. Peppermint is useful for headaches, sinus problems, and indigestion. Cilantro rids the body of heavy metals, lowers blood sugar levels, and promotes heart health. Chives improve bone health, keep vison healthy, and have anticancer properties. Lavender has antiseptic properties, soothes irritated skin, and boosts brain health. Basil protects the liver, is a pain reducer, and an immune booster. Thyme stimulates hair growth, is anti-inflammatory, and has excellent anti-bacterial properties. You can find a plant for pretty much any ailment with a little research, so it is worth considering this aspect when planning out your garden.

Positive Benefits of Gardening on Physical and Emotional Health

Ray Black Petunias

Gardening can really be a magical experience that provides many therapeutic benefits. Studies have found that gardening improves your mood, builds strength, fights depression, and aids in restorative sleep. It starts your morning out on a tranquil note drafting a charming start to the day. Every morning I enjoy checking on my garden, doing any necessary watering or pruning and marveling at new growth. Is there anything better than a fresh budding rose greeting you at sunrise?

It gets the creative juices flowing as you get to be the mastermind and orchestrater of your enchanted domain. From picking the right plants and herbs for you, to choosing pots that match your unique style and assist in the vibe of the space you are fashioning, or inventing the future layout, the world of gardening constantly provides opportunities to be imaginative. Having your own unique space that you can fill with items that bring you inspiration is certainly priceless.

Jazz Up the Space and Expand Your Hobbies

Aside from the never-ending delight of choosing plants and pots for your space, there are numerous other ways to transform your garden into a one-of-a-kind sanctuary, as well as incorporate other hobbies into the excitement. If arts and crafts are a passion of yours or something you’ve been wanting to try, you can dry out flowers and leaves to incorporate into your works. Alternatively, you can also attend some pottery classes and construct your own crazy pots to add individual flair to your plants, or maybe just create some eccentric garden gnomes! If woodworking is more your thing you can build your own planters, horizontal or vertical and of any size and design you dream up. Your plants can also always be incorporated into endless variations of potpourri, candles, essential oils, beauty products, tinctures, wreaths, décor, and of course don’t forget about all those sweet and savory dishes!

Tools You’ll Need

Starting your own organic herban garden doesn’t really take that much at all! You’ll need a small space that you can dedicate to the undertaking. It can be indoors or outdoors given that the plants will receive enough sunlight and have adequate room to grow. Growing outside you are likely to lure some friendly visitors such as butterflies, lizards, and ladybugs.

Decide the first couple of items you would like to grow based on how they may enhance your life. Then you will have to make the decision of if you want to grow from seeds or purchase starter plants. The benefits of starting from seed are numerous such as lower costs, more varieties to choose from, and the fact that some plants don’t transport very well. There are also advantages to using starter plants including quick maturation and being able to choose the plant based on appearance and health status.

Next, you’ll need to find a quality organic soil and fertilizer. I recommend going to your local nursery where you will be able to find regional varieties that will work better in your environment. Alternatively, you can also find these materials at many home improvement and grocery store garden centers. While there, make sure to pick up a pair of sharp scissors as you will need these for pruning, clipping, and harvesting. Also invest in a sturdy shovel that is compact and comfortable in your hand. You’ll want to purchase some neem oil to keep pests away from your organic plants, and you’ll need to purchase a reliable spray bottle to apply it. If you ever need to use it, the mixture you’ll require is extremely simple, consisting of just neem oil, water, and non-toxic dish soap (in order for the mixture incorporate). Also make sure to have plenty of spring or filtered water as the chemicals in tap water can lead to damage, nutrient degradation, and even the death of plants.

You’ll want to invest in pots suited for your plants which can be different based on if you need draining holes, a vast amount of space for the plant to grow, or the composition. I definitely recommend to always stay away from plastic pots as they should only be a temporary home for plants. The plastic can leech into the water and soil which will not only lower the vitality of the plants but also make them dangerous to consume. If you decide to use planters it is important to know what plants can grow successfully next to each other and how much space each one needs, so you’ll want to be sure to do a little research before you begin. When picking pots also make sure to take colors, designs, and craftmanship into account to ensure they will fit in with the aesthetic you are endeavoring to generate. The right pots can make such a difference in the mood of your space, so don’t shy away from looking around or paying a little more for the ideal pieces.

Enjoying Your Garden

Aside from all the obvious advantages and innovations your garden can provide, never underestimate the power of just spending some quiet time in your oasis. Whether to meditate, journal, read a great novel, or enjoy a meal, your garden will provide you an idealistic environment. Go ahead and start your own organic herban garden and soon you will too reap the rewards of a distinctive green space shrouded among the urban existence.

Nature

About the author

M.R. Cameo

M.R. Cameo generally writes horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and nonfiction, yet enjoys dabbling in different genres. She is currently doing freelance work as a writer, ghostwriter, copywriter, editor, and proofreader for various publications.

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